My Winey Valentine | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

My Winey Valentine

My Winey Valentine

Share a glass of kosher bubbly with the one you love this Valentine's Day

Valentine’s wines to get in the mood

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The week leading up to February 14, according the Nielson Company, is typically the fourth-largest period for sales of bubbly in the United States, after New Year's, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. While I love sparkling wine, and typically seize every conceivable excuse to pop open a bottle, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, however, I’m always a little torn.

On the one hand, there is nothing remotely Jewish about it. Or, more to the point, it seems entirely goyish—St. Valentine’s Day is its proper title, after all. The “saint” is usually a tip-off that Jews “shouldn’t mix in” as the traditional mantra has it. On the other hand, both in form and substance, February 14 is pretty far removed from anything actually religious.

I write about booze, not Jewish law, so do consult with your local Jewish authority before trying to bank on anything I write here, but giving chocolate or consuming bubbly with your lover on February 14 ought not to be a problem. After all, consumerism and romance have truly seized the day. Just don’t invoke any saint’s name or otherwise suggest that your gift fulfills some sort of religious obligation. Besides, doing any of those things would spoil the moment.

That said, I don’t actually recommend consuming bubbly and chocolate together. Sure, both sparkling wine and chocolate are associated with romance and with celebrations, but the sweetness in chocolate will tend to make sparkling wines, at least dry sparklers, seem especially bitter. Nothing will kill a moment more than sipping wine that suddenly tastes off or overly acidic. So, opt for sweeter sparkling wines, or, better yet, skip the chocolate.

Here are four bubbly options to consider (each should be served chilled):

Bartenura, Limited Edition, Demi-Sec (Non-Vintage), Italy ($24; mevushal): Presented in a couture-style gift bag, this new semi-sweet Italian sparkler is very light and easy with peach and melon aromas and pear and citrus-like flavors, with just enough acidity and bubbles to keep it fresh and fun.

Koenig, Crémant d’Alsace (Non-Vintage), France ($30; mevushal): Charming and delicious, this Alsatian sparkler is clean and brisk with aromas and flavors of citrus, apple, melon, and white peach, with fine, creamy and assertive bubbles that tingle the senses and drive home a lemony goodness.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Chardonnay, 2009 ($35): With delicate but enticing aromas and flavors of toasted brioche, baked apple, citrus zest, and tropical fruits, this is crisp, brisk, effervescent, balanced, and refreshing. A fun and flavorful bubbly.

Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Rosé, Brut, 2011 ($40): a delightful blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, this lightly-pinkish beauty offers aromas of citrus (lemon and perhaps grapefruit), strawberries, stone fruits, and brioche, all draped in flowers. Most of this reappears on the fine, brisk, and effervescent palate along with sour cherries, baked apple, ripe pears, almonds, and lemon peel. The bubbles are nicely sharp and concentrated, and the acidity is zippy and zingy, keeping it all fresh, refreshing, and nicely balanced. L’Chaim!

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